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Inquiry First.

The Girl Scouts of Massachusetts partnered with Raytheon over the weekend to engage 300 middle school students in math and science through interactive learning programs.

Massachusetts businesses that rely on workers with specific technical skills are finding that potential employees are in short supply. A lack of machinists, for example, and a dearth of mechanical engineers, are making it difficult for manufacturers to staff up. Some have observed that occupations traditionally considered "beneath" young college graduates are now requiring intelligent workers with problem-solving skills and the ability to work with their hands. "Those used to be skills that were passed down from generation to generation,” said Mary E. FitzGerald, human resources manager for Saint-Gobain Corp.'s ceramics and high performance refractory operations in Worcester, MA. “You just can't find those skilled people anymore."

STEM Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


A multi-country survey conducted by personal technology company Lenovo concludes that students in emerging countries like India, Mexico, and Russia, are significantly more likely than students in developed countries to pursue STEM careers.

The 2011 Global Student Science and Technology Outlook "[calls] attention to the differences in how students around the world view science as a career aspiration," said Michael Schmedlen, the worldwide director of education at Lenovo. "While the study shows some interesting disparities, the outcomes suggest possible solutions for how to engage students and foster their passion for science."

The survey reveals that students in India ranked highest (82 percent) among those who believe it's very important for their country to lead the world in science.  Mexico ranked second (81 percent) and Russia third (78 percent). In response to the same question, students in the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and Canada came in at 73, 61, 60 and 55 percent, respectively.

Students in the emerging countries also ranked highest in their intentions to pursue... Read More

It stands to reason that the more time a student spends learning a subject, the better that student will perform on tests of that subject matter. A recently-released report from the National Center on Time & Learning erases any doubt about it -- where science is concerned, at least.

Five case studies look at public schools, including the Matthew J. Kuss Middle School, in Fall River, MA, where the school day was extended by 100 minutes per day beginning in the '06-'07 school year. Science learning benefited from the lengthened school day, and so did the students' performance on the science portion of the MCAS.

Supported with funding from the Noyce Foundation, the report, "The Power of More Time to Deepen Inquiry and Engagement," lists "key successful practices" identified across the five case-study schools. It concludes, "Without fundamentally restructuring the school calendar—particularly at the elementary and middle school levels—to add more learning time and... Read More

A new study out of the University of Virginia suggests that participating in science fairs and other STEM-focused out-of-school activities influences students' course of study in college.  Recent news has lamented the lack of students pursuing STEM fields in college. The UVA study suggests a reason. Its lead author, Katherine Dabney (pictured here) notes, "Students may not be developing a strong interest in science and mathematics simply because they have not been exposed to these disciplines in such a manner that engages and encourages their interest."

Finding and retaining women for computer engineering jobs proves challenging for many companies. Morning Edition takes a look at how Silicon Valley is responding.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Defense announced the launch of “Learning Registry,” an open-source community and technology designed to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education. Rather than creating an alternative destination to existing websites, Learning Registry is a communication system that allows existing educational portals and online systems to publish, consume, and share important information about learning resources with each other and the public, while respecting the privacy of individual users.Basic data about resources—grade level, subject area, and author—can be shared through Learning Registry, as well as more complex data such as curricular standards alignment information.

Tufts University has an innovative program in place to help ensure that incoming freshmen intent on engineering majors have every shot at success.  The school's Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program equips selected students with a summer of courses and workshops to help ease the transition from high school into the rigors of Tufts' first-year engineering program.  With students nationwide switching from STEM majors into the humanities at an alarming rate, Tufts' solution is both timely and effective.

Marlborough High School's early-college program, called STEM, integrates project-based learning and problem-solving for real-world applications across all subjects. Marlborough is the first of six school districts in Massachusetts to implement the STEM program. As part of it, juniors and seniors can take up to 16 college credits at Framingham State University.


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